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Schools With High Povety Rates To Get More Money



San Diego public schools with the largest number of poor students will get an infusion of federal education dollars. That's the result of a pivotal San Diego Unified school board decision yesterday. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis explains.

San Diego school trustees voted to give the district's federal Title I funding to schools with the highest concentrations of students from low-income families.

Title 1 funds are used to pay for tutoring, English language services and remedial classes that target students from families that are struggling economically.

In the past, San Diego Unified has given the money to campuses with both large and small numbers of kids from poor families.

David Paige is a parent liaison on Title I issues. He says 32 schools that don't meet the threshold will not get the extra help. Paige expects their principals will have to cut programs and people.

Paige: Assisting students with reading programs, bilingual teachers who are able to help the English language students adjust. Those programs are going to be significantly scaled back. So they're (district officials) only back-up is state money which is obviously significantly reduced.

But school board president Sheila Jackson, who pushed for the 'yes' vote, put that argument aside. She says the neediest campuses haven't been able to get ahead academically because Title I money has been spread so thin. 

The neediest schools, which now stands at 112, could get up to roughly $25 million next school year if the federal economic stimulus package passes.

San Diego School Superintendent Terry Grier says in the past, the district let principals spend Title I funds on a hodgepodge of different programs. He plans to push the district to use the money on longer school days, parent involvement and preschool.

Grier: A lot of preschool programs have been programs that would be categorized as social adjustment or development programs. And while that is important, that in and of itself, is inadequate. We've got to have a program that starts helping children get ready academically.

Grier says he understands the reasoning behind the proposal and he wants to help kids who come from poor families. But he says its bad timing because the budget crunch will make it tougher on the schools that are losing out.

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.


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